Hahnville’s Austin Perrin returns to football

Published 12:02 am Saturday, August 20, 2016

HAHNVILLE — Austin Perrin didn’t like watching football.

Make no mistake, the Hahnville High School senior loves football.

He loves to play it.

Watching it, however, is another thing, especially when it’s your school, your team, your friends out there on the field and you’re not.

“It just killed me to watch,” Perrin said. “I watched them all playing and I was on the side. It really just brought it home, sort of.”

It had been Perrin’s decision to leave the football field last year despite a very successful sophomore season under then-first-year head coach Nick Saltaformaggio.

The starter, Mike Neal, went out with a broken collarbone early in the year and Perrin stepped in to run Saltaformaggio’s triple option offense. Perrin finished with more than 1,800 passing yards that season, during which the Tigers went 7-3 and advanced to the third round of the playoffs.

That’s the year Hahnville faced it nemesis, Destrehan, twice — once in the regular season and again in the Class 5A quarterfinals.

Destrehan won both.

After that, Perrin elected to devote all his attention to his real love, baseball. He announced that he was giving up the game of football to concentrate on his future.

It’s on the baseball diamond that Perrin truly excels. A left-handed pitcher with a solid 85-mph fastball, the Tigers’ ace began drawing the attention of colleges across the land last spring.  After another successful season this spring, he announced his commitment to play for the University of Louisiana-Lafayette after he graduates in May.

Then his thoughts began turning back toward football. He saw the Tigers had scrapped the triple-option for more of a spread offense. He saw that great big target in 5-foot-9 senior wide receiver Anthony “Pooka” Williams, who has a slew of college offers.

He also saw the success that new quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator Lester Ricard was having.

Perrin and Ricard, who starred at Tulane before moving on to a journeyman career as a professional football player, have formed a bond.

“He and I have a real great relationship,” Perrin said. “He thinks like a quarterback. He knows what it’s like to be a player.”

So Perrin let himself get talked into going back out for football.

“I just started thinking about it,” he said. “Now that my baseball future is settled and I don’t have to really worry about it, I can just go out and have fun and help the team.”

The fact that the Ricard scrapped the option helped push his decision, Perrin said.

“Yeah, I’m not really a running-type quarterback,” he said.

Whatever the reason, Saltaformaggio is ecstatic.

“It really is a blessing,” he said. “We are a better football team with him.”

Certainly, the offense is better. Saltaformaggio noted that, during a recent intrasquad scrimmage, the offense scored “at will” against the defense.

“Our defense couldn’t stop an old man walking down the aisle at Walmart,” Saltaformaggio joked. “We have to hope we score a lot of points.”

Perrin said the coach isn’t too happy about that.

“He gets so mad every time we score,” he said.

With Hahnville’s defense struggling and Destrehan’s defense replacing nine starters, this year’s annual rivalry game might garner a little more hype than usual.

Saltaformaggio is currently 0-3 against the Wildcats in just two seasons.

Destrehan, meanwhile, has a veteran quarterback in Kohen Granier along with quarterbacks coach Jordan Jefferson, the former LSU Tiger.

The teams have three weeks to prepare for their Sept. 23 meeting in Destrehan.